January 3, 2008 — /PRNewswire/ — ROSWELL, GA — For the second year in a row, a survey of safety professionals has found that noncompliance with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols continues to be an issue in the workplace.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they had observed workers failing to wear PPE when they should have been, according to a survey of attendees at the 2007 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Eighty-five percent of safety professionals answered yes to the same question in a survey undertaken by Kimberly-Clark Professional at the 2006 NSC Congress.
“Despite the undisputed need for PPE when undertaking hazardous tasks, people continue to risk bodily harm by failing to protect themselves,” says Randy Kates, general manager of the safety business for Kimberly-Clark Professional. “In this survey, we not only asked why people did not comply with PPE protocols, but what could be done to alter these behaviors.”
The main “why” was “uncomfortable” PPE, according to sixty-two percent of respondents who had observed noncompliance in the workplace. This was followed by: workers thinking PPE was not necessary for the task, PPE was “too hot,” PPE fits poorly, or was “unattractive looking.”
So it’s not surprising that when asked what could be improved about the PPE they were currently purchasing, three quarters of survey respondents said they would make it “more comfortable.” Safety professionals also gave the nod to more fashionable PPE. Eighty-four percent said that they would be more apt to purchase fashionable and attractive PPE if workers would be more likely to wear it and the price was comparable to what they were currently paying for similar products.
Off-the-Job Safety Programs
At a time when workplace deaths are on the decline but injuries and deaths in the home have risen, fifty-nine percent of safety professionals said they had programs in place to promote at-home safety. Another twenty-eight percent said they had plans to create this type of program in the future.
Of those with existing safety programs, sixty-eight percent said the offerings consisted of training programs or providing training materials on off-the-job or at-home safety. Forty-four percent said they encouraged employees to take home company-provided PPE and sixteen percent said they have incentive programs for staying safe off-the-job as well as on. Ten percent said they allow employees to borrow high-priced safety equipment, such as gas detection equipment, for home use.
Green Issues Take Center Stage
The survey also explored the effect of environmental considerations on purchasing PPE and other personal safety products. Here, the verdict was nearly unanimous. Ninety-four percent of respondents said environmental considerations and reducing the impact on the environment were important to them. Sixty-four percent ranked these as “very important,” while twenty percent described them as “somewhat important.” Ten percent said environmental factors were “increasingly important now,” as compared to a few years ago.
When it comes to green purchases, the top consideration was buying products made with recycled materials. Next was the ability to reuse or recycle products after use. Source-reduced products and packaging and a manufacturer’s overall commitment to the environment were nearly tied for third place. These were followed by:
- Purchasing from one supplier to reduce energy costs resulting from thetransport of supplies from different sources
- Products that are shipped in biodegradable packages with as little packaging material as possible.
- Products manufactured in a “carbon neutral” facility.
The survey also addressed another environmental issue, by asking respondents to choose between two types of industrial wiping products: A recycled cloth towel that is laundered and reused, releasing chemicals and metal contaminants in the wastewater of industrial laundries, or a disposable paper or paper/polymer wiping product that is discarded into a landfill after use. Fifty-six percent said they would choose the disposable wiper. Twenty- seven percent selected the laundered towel. Seventeen percent said they did not know which product they would pick.
Health and Safety Concerns
Respondents were also asked whether they were concerned about the potential health and safety issues faced by their workers as a result of exposure to oil, grease, heavy metal residues or other toxic elements on re-usable rental shop towels. Nearly three-quarters voiced concern, with forty-four percent of these respondents saying they were “very concerned.” Twenty-three percent said they were not concerned.
The survey was undertaken at the NSC Congress in Chicago on October 16, 2007. The survey questionnaires were filled out by 197 safety professionals who reported being responsible for purchasing, selecting or influencing the purchase or selection of, or compliance with, PPE. Respondents were from the following fields: industrial manufacturing, construction, hazmat, emergency response, clean manufacturing, laboratories and science, health care, transportation, law enforcement and government.
About Kimberly-Clark Professional
Kimberly-Clark Professional is an indispensable business partner, delivering leading-edge health, hygiene and productivity solutions that provide tangible value every day, everywhere. Known for innovative, quality solutions for away-from-home washrooms, “clean” and “industrial” manufacturing environments, and DIY settings, the global brands of Kimberly-Clark Professional include Kleenex, Scott, Kimcare, WypAll, KleenGuard, and Kimtech. Kimberly-Clark Professional, located in Roswell, GA, is one of Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s (NYSE:KMB) four business segments.
Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries. Every day, 1.3 billion people — almost a quarter of the world’s population — trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly- Clark holds the No. 1 or No. 2 share position in more than 80 countries.
Kimberly-Clark Professional Safety Survey
Conducted at NSC Congress
October 16, 2007
Questions 1-3, 4-6 and 8-11: 197 Respondents
Question 3a: 172 Respondents
Question 7: 116 Respondents
1. Are you responsible for purchasing, selecting, influencing the
purchase or selection of, or compliance with, Personal Protective
2. Which of the following areas do you work in? (Select as many as
Industrial manufacturing 46%
Emergency response 20%
Laboratory/science environment 12%
Medical or healthcare environment 09%
Clean manufacturing 09%
Law enforcement 03%
3. Have you ever observed anyone in your organization failing to wear
proper PPE in a situation when they should have been wearing it?
Yes (Subnet) 87%
Yes, this has happened infrequently 45%
Yes, this has happened on numerous occasions 42%
Don’t know 05%
3a. If you answered “Yes” to the previous question, did the worker or
workers mention any of the reasons listed below for not wearing PPE?
(Select as many as apply.)
Didn’t think PPE was necessary for work task 55%
Too hot 52%
Poor fit 31%
Unattractive looking 24%
Not easily accessible from site of work task 09%
Don’t know 17%
4. If you could improve your current PPE, which of the following would
you look for? (Select as many as apply.)
More comfortable 75%
More cost-effective 61%
Improved quality 46%
What you want isn’t available 04%
5. Assuming workers would be more likely to use PPE if it is
fashionable and attractive, would that make you MORE likely to
purchase fashionable PPE if the price was the same as other PPE?
(Select one answer.)
Yes (Subnet) 84%
Yes, much more likely 45%
Yes, somewhat more likely 39%
No, not very likely 10%
No, it would make absolutely no difference 05%
Don’t know/None of the above 02%
6. While accidental deaths in the workplace continue to go down, the
number of injuries and deaths in the home has risen by 30 percent
since 1992. Has your organization taken an active role in promoting
safety at home as well as at work? (Select one answer)
Yes, you have programs in place to promote at-home safety 59%
No, but you hope to implement such programs in the future 28%
No, you do not have a program, nor do you have plans to
create one 10%
Don’t know/None of these 04%
7. If you answered “Yes” to the previous question, which of the
following actions is your organization taking to promote off-the-job
safety? (Select as many as apply.)
You have training programs or you provide training materials that
cover off-the-job or at-home safety 68%
You encourage employees to take home company-provided PPE (safety
glasses, gloves, boots, etc.) 44%
You have incentive programs for staying safe off-the-job as
well as on 16%
You allow employees to borrow high-priced safety equipment,
like gas detection equipment, for home use 10%
Don’t know 03%
8. How important are environmental considerations – and reducing the
impact on the environment – to you in purchasing PPE and other
personal safety products for your workplace? (Select one answer.)
Important (Subnet) 94%
Very important 64%
Somewhat important 20%
Increasingly important now, as compared to a few years ago 10%
Not very important 03%
Not at all important 01%
Don’t know/none of these 03%
9. Which of the following environmental considerations are important to
you in purchasing workplace products? (Select as many as apply.)
Products made from recycled materials 46%
The ability to reuse or recycle products after use 41%
Products and product packaging that are “source-reduced,” or
manufactured to reduce the amount of waste
in the first place 37%
A manufacturer’s overall commitment to the environment 36%
Purchasing from one supplier to help reduce energy costs from
transporting supplies from different sources 33%
Products that are shipped in biodegradable packages or with as
little packaging material as possible 23%
Products manufactured in a “carbon neutral” facility that
implements renewable energy projects to offset carbon dioxide
Don’t know/none of these 12%
10. From an environmental perspective, if you were given a choice between
two wiping products: 1) a recycled cloth towel that is laundered and
reused, releasing chemicals and metal contaminants into the
wastewater of industrial laundries, and 2) a disposable paper or
paper/polymer blend wiping product that is discarded into a landfill
after use – which of these would you be more likely to choose?
(Select one answer.)
Disposable wiper 56%
Laundered towel 27%
Don’t know 17%
11. Are you concerned about the potential health and safety issues for
your workers posed by oil, grease, heavy metal residues or toxic
elements on re-usable Rental Shop Towels? (Select one answer.)
Yes (subnet) 72%
Yes, you are very concerned 44%
Yes, you are somewhat concerned 28%
No, you are not very concerned 16%
No, you are not concerned at all 07%
Don’t know 06%